Before I got a smart phone my friends teased me for carrying an A5 diary in my handbag, which I often referred to as my 'brain'. In our home we also use an online calendar and both our boys know how to access it and as you would expect they like to have a nosy most days. In this digital age our schedule is not just accessible on our computer but also our phones. That sounds a lot like over-kill to me!!
We schedule things because we are busy (make that forgetful). I don't remember life being so busy when I was a child. My folks worked hard, time off was rare and they didn't schedule in a ton of socialising or activities. As children, we didn't do a myriad of sports or hobbies. There was no real need for a schedule.
Not so in my parenting experience. Since we started homeschooling, my diary has been cleared during the morning hours every day. I was looking forward to going all reclusive and taking life back to a simple state. I was a tad overdone, weary of the running wheel I had unconsciously hopped on. Unfortunately home schooling hasn't changed that. Sad to say my idealistic bubble was burst pretty quickly. Our schedule is still really full most afternoons and that's not including the evenings or weekends. What’s with that?
Busyness. It's a mysterious thing. I think you can assume your life is too busy when someone asks you how your week has been and you think "My week... what did I do? I can't remember. It was all a blur." I remember reading a story about how our enemy, the Devil, doesn't need to constantly throw temptation in our way, he just needs to keep us so busy we have no time for deep connection with Christ Jesus. When we are too busy, we slip into 'trying' in our own strength and we become ineffective. We get by, don't get me wrong. Our own strength can be efficient. We can be highly functional but not faithfully effective.
Temperance is an old fashioned word, a forgotten philosophy in a western world hell-bent on more, bigger, better and faster. Temperance means moderation in action, thought or feeling. Sadly it doesn't describe my life. Do we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves about our schedule? Parents, we are some of the worst at this. What if we don't take our kids to ballet? Are we a bad parent? Will they be missing out? Not to mention art, football, rugby, scouts, piano, Spanish, swimming, hip-hop, basket ball, cricket and believe me I could keep going on and on about all the out of school activities kids are encourage to participate in. We as parents should be the moderators in the midst of all the busyness, teaching our children temperance instead. Yet so often we feed the busy and shamefully admit we have no idea how to live a lifestyle of moderation.
As adults we fill our own schedules with work, socialising, sports and more work. Sometimes it’s with good stuff, often even with church stuff. We crowd our minds and time with 'what's next'. Do you think that we cram our schedules full because we somehow feel important when we are busy? Maybe that’s true of you or maybe we cram our days and minds full so we don't have time to think on how disconnected we are, how unloved we feel, how unhappy we feel or how discontented we are?
In some respects we should be discontented. We should desire more... but we shouldn't go looking to work, people, activities, programs or possession to fill this desire. It’s in the ‘stopping’ that we find the real answer. Our “holy discontent” moves us to find our true satisfaction in God alone as we desire more of Him who is perfect in every way.
It can be scary to stop, because in so doing we will possibly disappoint people. What if we do stop and yet we still find it difficult to hear the voice of God? What if all we are left with is silence? Break the silence with prayer. Pray for more of God. Luke 11:11-13 talks about a father giving his child good gifts. Verse 13 says “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” I love that exclamation mark. Think on that for a moment. God loves to give us good gifts, the Holy Spirit included - to those who ask him. Ask away then!!! What better gift is there than the presence of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit can use the silence and space to move you. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit want you to be connected to them. When we draw close to God we will be given an eternal perspective that will give us urgency for reality and simplicity in life.
I'm not suggesting you throw your diary away, I certainly won't be. I'd be lost without mine but at least let us be deliberate. Let us set aside time not to be busy. Ask God to teach you temperance and moderation. Ask God to give you the greatest gift, more of Himself. Draw your desires from the one who can meet all your needs and satisfy your heart.